Kremlin exchanges “General Armageddon”

From the Kremlin's point of view, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is by no means going according to plan.

Defense Minister Shoigu is now exchanging the commander-in-chief for the Russian troops there again.

After just a few months in office, Russia has again changed its commander-in-chief for the war against Ukraine. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has appointed Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov as the new commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, according to the Defense Ministry in Moscow. The previous commander Sergei Surovikin, who only took over the post last October, should become Gerasimov’s deputy. Shoigu also appointed two other deputies.

The reason given was that the effectiveness of the military operation in Ukraine should be increased. There, Russia is confronted with setbacks in the war that has been going on for around eleven months. Surovikin has been dubbed “General Armageddon” by Russian media for reports of ruthless actions in previous conflicts.

Controversial withdrawal from Kherson

He had proposed and organized the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Ukrainian city of Kherson in early November, in a major blow to the Kremlin. Since then, the front line has mostly stabilized, except in the area around the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region. There, the Russian army and the Wagner mercenary group have been trying to conquer the city of Bakhmut for months.

Zurovikin and Gerasimov have been slammed by Russian military bloggers over the post-invasion setbacks that have left tens of thousands of soldiers and countless Ukrainian civilians dead on both sides. In their first reactions, they were also unimpressed by the new change at the top. “The total doesn’t change just because you swap the order of the parts,” prominent blogger Rybar wrote on Telegram. Surovkin being made the scapegoat for a series of military blunders. This includes the Ukrainian attack on a barracks in which at least 89 Russian soldiers were killed on New Year’s Day.

“Not everything goes according to plan”

Military expert Rob Lee of the Foreign Policy Research Institute said on Twitter that with the change, the Department of Defense is claiming control of warfare again. It is “certainly possible that there are political reasons behind it”. Surovikin had become very powerful as Ukraine commander and may have bypassed Defense Minister Shoigu and Gerasimov in conferencing with President Vladimir Putin.

Political scientist Abbas Gallyamov pointed out on Telegram that General Alexander Lapin had been appointed the new head of the land forces on Tuesday. Gallyamov wrote that one could interpret this movement of the same people from one chair to another as one likes, but not as “everything is going according to plan”.


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